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Uber Inks Autonomous Vehicle Deal With Volvo

The ride-share company placed an order for 24,000 self-driving cars.
November 22, 2017

​SAN FRANCISCO – Uber has made a deal with Volvo for 24,000 autonomous vehicles, the Washington Post reports. Already in a few U.S. cities, passengers can catch a ride in a self-driving taxi that has a human operator.

The Uber-Volvo deal could mean thousands of driverless vehicles could be deployed without human operators inside the cars. Uber has predicted it would launch the first robotically driven taxis in 2019.

“We’re moving aggressively,” said Jeff Miller, Uber’s head of automotive alliances. “As soon as the technology is ready, there is a manufacturing machine that is ready to go, and we can push the ‘make car’ button, and we’ll have a clear path to having tens of thousands of self-driving vehicles on the road.”

Uber and other makers of self-driving vehicles will have to content with municipalities, which would need to approve such cars on city streets. But several California cities and Boston have already begun discussions on driverless taxis. “This deal is evidence that automated driving is becoming very real,” said Bryant Walker Smith, an assistant law professor at the University of South Carolina who studies the self-driving movement. “It’s close enough and it’s concrete enough that there are major companies willing to stake their credibility, their strategy and even their survival on this deal.”

Experts predict that the Uber-Volvo agreement will spur similar partnerships. “We have millions of drivers that operate on our platform every day around the world,” Miller said. “There will always be a role for human-driven vehicles. You’re going to see a hybrid fleet of human- and robot-driven vehicles.”